Biomass: Alternative Feedstocks for Fuels, Chemicals & Polymers | AIChE

Biomass: Alternative Feedstocks for Fuels, Chemicals & Polymers

Biomass by its definition is a renewable energy source, derived from plants and organisms that can be converted into fuel for energy, chemicals and polymers. Although fossil fuels do come from very ancient biomass sources, they are not considered biomass because they contain carbon that has been 'out' of the carbon cycle for a very long time. Therefore, fossil fuel emissions such as CO2 or CO are “additive” to the overall content of atmospheric carbon gases and considered by many as an environmental problem. Examples of fuels derived from biomass include wood chips, methane, ethanol and bio-diesel, which are currently used to supplement the use of fossil fuels.

Outside of the fuels markets, the global chemical industry, including polymers is estimated to exceed $3 trillion in sales. As a sub-sector of all chemicals produced, there are literally hundreds of biomass derived chemicals including bio-ethylene, propanediol, various polyols, surfactants and many types of specialties for personal care industry. There are also many types of biomass derived polymers, such as bio-polyethylene, polylactic acid (PLA), polyhydroxy alkanoate (PHA), epoxy resins, alkyd resins, regenerated cellulosics and many more.

Economically attractive biomass conversion, and therefore successful monetization of biomass feedstock and its derivatives, are partly based on the competitive price point ‘set’ by competitive fossil fuels and derivatives, laws that promote biomass conversion and the public’s interest to consume so-called “green” products. Therefore, competitive technology and raw material sourcing will be key ingredients in achieving success in bio-derivatives.

This presentation provides a high-level review of the current trends in technology and markets for biomass feedstocks and the future outlook. It focuses on the integrated value chain for chemicals and polymers. It is part of the Metro NY Section's 'Biomass as a Feedstock' Miniconference presented on May 17, 2010.


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  • Source:
    Metro New York Local Section
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  • Duration:
    1 hour
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